We visited River Horse Brewing Company in NJ on National Beer Day, however they were not open to the public so we were given a private look at the inside of the brewery while the staff told us all about what makes River Horse unique. It was obvious that they work hard to make a great product rather than get wrapped up in the glamorous media side of brewing. The head brewer Chris said: “It’s fun and it’s great; I love it. There’s nothing else I ever want to do or plan to do, but we’re working in a factory. We’re not ‘too cool’ for anything, ya know?” All of the beer we sampled was straight forward, clean, & well-done, all of the staff were great to talk to and humble, and the facility has plenty of room for expansion. Gotta love the art on their walls.
In the late afternoon, we made the 20 minute drive north from our stop at Flying Fish Brewing Co. to Mount Holly, NJ in order to check out Village Idiot Brewing Company. We were able to meet with the two owners, Vince Masciandaro and Rich Palmay, to talk about their brand new business venture. The two are long-time friends – Vince has been homebrewing for 25 years and Rich, who teaches a homebrewing course at a nearby community college, has been an avid homebrewer for 10 years. They were (and still are) active participants in the south NJ based Barley Legal Homebrewers and had been toying with the idea of opening a business of some kind. They admired the nano approach of other breweries around the country – especially Blackrocks in Marquette, MI – and, after the New Jersey legal landscape changed in 2012 to allow for on-site consumption, they jumped at the chance to the implement a similar concept of a tavern style, zero distribution, nano brewery – the first in their home state of New Jersey. Their last license was received late last year and Village Idiot promptly opened for business on December 20, 2013.
We ended up sleeping in our van again as soon as we crossed into the state of New Jersey coming from Delaware, then visited with the brewing staff at Flying Fish Brewing Company in Somerdale, NJ on the afternoon of Friday, 3/28/2014. As we walked around with the brewery manager, Barry Holsten, we found out that Flying Fish is the most sustainable brewery in the Philadelphia Region. They built into energy saving features in all areas when they moved into their current facility, including: converting to high-pressure steam for sanitizing instead of chemicals, using ‘solar tunnels’ that allow sunlight to light the warehouse to augment energy efficient lighting, have 470 solar panels on the roof, use recycled cardboard with low levels of one color of ink to package, and do not distribute nationally so that fossil fuels are not burned.